American has quietly made a change to their ticket hold policy in the past 24 hours.
Historically American is the most generous airline I know of when it comes to ticket holds. They’ve always let you hold revenue tickets for one day and award tickets for five days. Now in fairness, American doesn’t offer a free refund within 24 hours like other carriers do, because they offer a 24 hour hold instead (which I prefer anyway).
While they’re not changing the award ticket hold policy, they have devalued their hold policy on revenue tickets.
Effective immediately American will only allow you to hold a revenue ticket at least seven days before departure. They’ve updated their website to reflect this:
As a convenience for your travel planning, aa.com offers a free “hold” option during booking. You may place your reservation on hold for up to 24 hours if you are booking the reservation more than seven days prior to departure. When you make a reservation on aa.com for American Airlines flights, including American flights operated by codeshare partners, look for the “Free 24 hour hold” option on the “Review and Pay” page during the booking process.
The “Hold” option allows you to:
- Hold your reservation on aa.com up to 24 hours*
- Coordinate your travel plans
- Retrieve the reservation through aa.com and purchase online or with other convenient options
Unfortunately American will not be allowing free refunds within 24 hours for flights booked within seven days of departure, as the relevant DOT regulations don’t apply to travel booked within seven days of departure:
The 24-hour reservation requirement is mandated by the Department of Transportation’s consumer rule “Enhancing Airline Passenger Protections” (14 CFR 259.5(b)(4), 76 Fed. Reg. 23110, 23166, Apr. 25, 2011) and applies to all reservations made seven days or more prior to the flight’s scheduled departure time.
I’m very sad to see this, since I book a lot of my travel within seven days of departure. It actually works out great because if I’m booking travel 3-4 days out the upgrade often actually clears while my ticket is still on hold, and then I can basically “ticket” the reservation while confirmed in first class.